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LINGUIST List 19.2352

Fri Jul 25 2008

Diss: Lang Acq/Psycholing/Phonology: Dahlen: 'Aptitude, Rehearsal ...'

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Kristina Dahlen, Aptitude, Rehearsal, and Skin Conductance Response in Foreign Vocabulary Learning

Message 1: Aptitude, Rehearsal, and Skin Conductance Response in Foreign Vocabulary Learning
Date: 24-Jul-2008
From: Kristina Dahlen <dahlen.kgmail.com>
Subject: Aptitude, Rehearsal, and Skin Conductance Response in Foreign Vocabulary Learning
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Institution: Boston University
Program: Graduate Program in Applied Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Kristina Dahlen

Dissertation Title: Aptitude, Rehearsal, and Skin Conductance Response in Foreign Vocabulary Learning

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Dissertation Director:
Shanley Allen
Catherine Caldwell-Harris

Dissertation Abstract:

Phonological awareness skills are a major component of foreign language
aptitude (Hu & Schuele, 2005). This ability to break words into syllables
and phonemes influences successful rehearsal of foreign words in the
phonological loop (Baddeley et al., 1998) and ultimate encoding in
long-term memory. Which form of rehearsal is optimal for foreign vocabulary
learning, e.g. vocal or subvocal? Does manner of rehearsal affect
performance on recall and recognition of foreign vocabulary?

Participants were 88 university students, all fluent in English, with no
previous exposure to our test language, Turkish. Foreign language aptitude
and phonological awareness were measured with the Modern Language Aptitude
Test (Carroll & Sapon, 1959). Participants rehearsed twenty Turkish nouns
in one of four conditions: vocal rehearsal with auditory feedback, vocal
rehearsal with auditory feedback suppressed by white noise, subvocal
rehearsal (i.e. inner speech, Guerrero 2005), and no rehearsal. Two
dependent measures were used: word recall through picture identification
and word recognition in orally presented sentences. To measure participant
reactivity to vocabulary recognition, skin conductance response (SCR, a
method not previously used in this research literature) was monitored
during the recognition task.

As expected, high aptitude participants recalled and recognized
significantly more target words than low aptitude participants in every
rehearsal group (p < .03). Participants who rehearsed with no interference
(i.e. vocally with feedback and subvocally) outperformed the other two
groups on both recall and recognition. The findings indicate that the
ability to rehearse produces a larger main effect than aptitude.

Unexpectedly, subvocal rehearsal was as successful as vocal rehearsal with
full auditory feedback. The faster rate of inner speech, allowing for more
rehearsal in the phonological loop, may compensate for lack of external
feedback. High aptitude participants exhibited more electrodermal
reactivity than low aptitude participants, as hypothesized. However,
rather than finding a vocabulary recognition response, SCRs were higher for
incorrect responses (p < .02). The higher SCRs may indicate a stress
response from the high aptitude participants, having a higher awareness of
their mistakes.

Results indicate that phonological awareness training along with focused
rehearsal strategies may help override the effects of low aptitude in
at-risk learners.

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